The food markets of Lorient and Audierne to the biscuit workshops of Pont-Aven offer a pleasant sensory alternative to the fresh coastal air.
Healing and invigorating sea air
The sea air in Brittany is a veritable tonic, and with its gentle marine climate and seawater rich in minerals and trace elements, it’s France’s number-one destination for thalassotherapy. Brittany has been the centre for seawater therapy since its first recognised incarnation in Roscoff – and today’s visitors reap the reward of more than 100 years of perfecting the science. The region’s prestigious and reputed thalassotherapy centres are naturally found in the best seaside spots and a thalassotherapy break will leave you feeling transformed and full of vitality.
Parks and gardens
English romanticism and formal French elegance, mazes and unusual flower gardens: Brittany is home to numerous parks and gardens to be enjoyed whatever the season. Close your eyes and take a deep breath... can you smell the heady scent of lilies and irises? When you open your eyes, do you feel as though you’ve somehow arrived in Japan, or travelled back in time to the 17th century? That’s the magic of Brittany’s gardens; in the blink an eye they can take you to a completely different time or place. There’s formal symmetry in French or Italian Baroque gardens, there are extraordinary trees and ancient varieties of vegetables, botanical gardens and mazes you can get lost in. You’re spoilt for choice.
Find out more on the 10 most beautiful parks and gardens.
Local produce at the markets
Brittany is famous for crêpes served with cider, seafood washed down with Muscadet wine and top-class veg and butter. There are very few towns or villages in Brittany without their own special food market. As you wander, your senses will be aroused with the perfume of herbs and spices; you’ll find quality fruit and vegetables at excellent prices, as well as meat, bread and cheese. The fresh fish auctions are at their best in Audierne, Concarneau, Douarnenez and Lorient, where they usually take place daily within 30 minutes of the boats docking.
Find out more on five markets in Brittany to stroll around
East of Concarneau, Pont-Aven is best known for its association with painter Paul Gauguin – but it also has a tasty tradition of biscuit-making. No visit would be complete without buying some galettes from Biscuiterie Traou Mad, where these thick butter biscuits (not pancakes) were invented in 1920. ‘Traou Mad’ means ‘good things’ in Breton and the recipe is a closely guarded secret. The biscuits contain no preservatives and make a perfect souvenir to bring home after visiting the workshop.
Did you know that sardines are deep-fried before they are canned? La Belle-Iloise cannery in Quiberon is a fully working cannery open to the public. Watch the process from a balcony and explore a couple of rooms of historic canning machinery and illustrations of fishing and canning.